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Thursday, 31 October 2013

In his house at R'lyeh

Having mentioned Old Ones, I can't let Halloween pass without recommending I N J Culbard's fabulous graphic novel adaptation of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. We never got del Toro's long-promised Mountains movie - not yet anyway - but this is the next best thing.

The universe has never seemed a more alien place than it is in Lovecraft's Antarctica, and crucially Culbard adds to the terror of the story by humanizing the tiny, helpless protagonists in the midst of a continent of unknowability. I'm not sure I'd agree with Rachel Cooke's review in The Observer newspaper that draws comparisons with Tintin and Boy's Own. Ms Cooke must have been reading Tintin and the Pit of Eldritch Horror, or else was thinking of all those Old Ones running curio shops and talking in mockney. But hey, she liked it.

While we're on the subject of the Cthulhu mythos, I found that the gamebook/Dungeons and Dragons variant spelling of shoggoth is not as risible as it seems. Well, it is, but it's also slightly supported by canon. (I'm not casting the first stone, me. If I'd known more Romany in the 1980s, at least one country in Legend would have had a different name. And no excuse for that, really, as I had a schoolfriend who called all us Anglo kids "gaujoes"; he could have told me.)

The original Mountains novella is worth a look too, and may be a good place to start if you've never read Lovecraft. There's an excellent article by M Christian that includes some of the illustrations from the  Astounding Stories publication in 1936. Mr Christian notes:
"What’s particularly interesting about At the Mountains of Madness is how it forms a bridge between Lovecraft’s mythology. Before it, his 'horrors from beyond' were more mythological, but with At the Mountains of Madness he instead moves in a more science fiction like direction - a change many other reviewers have called extremely significant for his very long-lasting popularity."
The last word goes to Ech Pi El himself:
"For a second we gasped in admiration of the scene’s unearthly cosmic beauty, and then vague horror began to creep into our souls..."
Brr. Happy Halloween.


  1. Thanks for pointing out this graphic novel, I am always looking for interesting graphic novels to get.

  2. I bought this one on your recommendation and it was pretty good. I wrote a review at